Blueberry Pie

 Brendan and I spent one of the most fun/delicious Saturdays I’ve ever had in NEPA at Paupack Blueberry Farm this past weekend. These blueberries were amazing – as big as my thumb, perfectly sweet, growing rampant in the middle of these gorgeous blueberry fields. I felt like I was in a dream. A dream, of course, in which I turned into Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, because we picked about 5 lbs. of blueberries, couldn’t stop eating them, and then I came home and made a blueberry pie, blueberry pancakes and blueberry frozen yogurt. But listen – blueberries are full of antioxidants, right? So really we were just eating healthily. Summer’s winding down – get some in-season berries and throw together this fantastic blueberry pie.  

Crust (makes 2 – 1 for the bottom and 1 for the top of the pie):
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. salt
– 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/3 C. super cold butter (I throw this in the freezer for about 10 mins)
– 1/3 C. shortening
– 1/3 C. super cold water

– 4 tbsp. cornstarch
– 1/2 C. sugar
– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
– 1/3 C. cold water
– 5 C fresh blueberries
– 1/2 lemon, juiced
– 1 tbsp. butter
– evaporated milk (for crust)

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt & baking powder. 

3. Add to a mixing bowl of a Cuisinart Food Processor. Cut up the super cold butter into little chunks, add the shortening, and pulse the mixture until it starts to come together and form little pellets of dough. 

4. Add the cold water a little at a time until the dough comes together. Remove from the mixing bowl and form into a ball of dough. Wrap in Saran Wrap and put in the freezer while you get the filling ready. 

5. Combine the cornstarch, sugar, and cinnamon. Add to a sauce pan, turn heat up to medium-low, then add the water. Stir this mixture constantly until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.

6. Fold this mixture into the (washed, obvs) blueberries, gently stirring to coat. 

7. Cut dough into half, then, on a floured wax paper or aluminum foil surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll this out into the bottom crust. 

8. Gently flip the crust over into the bottom of an ungreased pie pan.

9. Add the blueberries and cornstarch/cinnamon/sugar mixtures into the pie pan. 

10. Shave a couple little curls of butter on top of the blueberries, then squeeze half a lemon over them.

11. Roll out the top crust, then flip that over the blueberries to form the top crust.

12. Crimp edges, then cut little “breathing” slits into the crust, in whatever pattern you like (be creative!).

13. Brush evaporated milk over the top of the crust, then bake at 400 on the second to lowest rack for 45 minutes.

14. Now, the most difficult part. This has to sit for at least 5 hours to gel together, otherwise you’ll have a watery, runny blueberry pie. It’s torture, I know. Just keep your eye on the prize and think about how awesome blueberry pie for breakfast will be!

15. After 5 hours (you can put it in the fridge to speed things up), cut yourself a slice and enjoy. Summer!!!

Lump Crab and Avocado Stacks

Kitchen Hacks. Do you own a measuring cup? Yes? Congratulations, you can make a really pretty-looking dinner with minimal effort. What is it about meals presented in neatly-rounded stack format that make them so appealing? I don’t know, but this is one of my favorites. I had some of my girlfriends over for a little dinner last week, and made these along with pear, prosciutto and honeyed goat cheese apps, those polenta fries with sage and a giant platter of one of my most-indulgent-while-still-being-healthy salads, an avocado and tomato salad with lemon olive oil and toasted almonds over arugula. Yummo. This is perfect for summer. 

LUMP CRAB AND AVOCADO STACKS (makes 5 1-cup portions)
– 20 oz. lump crab (make sure you get lump or jumbo lump)
– 4 avocados, mashed into larger chunks
– approx. 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
– 2-3 limes, juiced
– zest of 1 lemon
– 2-3 dashes of cumin
– chopped fresh chives
– kosher salt and pepper

1. Cube avocados, then mash gently (you still want them to be chunky so this can stand up to the crab). Mix in 1/2 the lime juice, a little kosher salt and about half the cilantro. Taste and adjust.

2. In a separate bowl, gently combine the lump crab, chives, the rest of the lime juice, cumin, lemon zest,  and a little kosher salt and pepper. Taste and adjust.

3. Now comes the fun part! Grab a 1-cup measuring cup, and gently put a layer of the crab mixture in the bottom of it. Add the avocado mixture, packing it in gently.

4. Get a plate, and swiftly but with confidence (don’t be nervous, this is going to look great!) flip the measuring cup upside down. Pull the measuring cup up, leaving the crab and avocado mixture. 

5. Step and repeat with the other plates. Serve and enjoy with a delicious lemon-marscapone cake (Goddamn Jonelle. That thing was too good.) Girlfrandz.

Summer Salads

Hands up if you need a little detox after the 4th of July weekend. Oh, you too? We’re officially into July, you guys, so what better excuse to dig up some of my favorite summer salad recipes. With the exception of the tortellini (which is still a healthy, super tasty salad), these salads are all clean-eating recipes that you can make almost exclusively with produce found at your local Farmer’s Market. Best of all, they’re perfect for those mid-summer picnics…no mayo, nothing heavy, just bright flavors that take advantage of all the summer has to offer.  So grab a produce bag and head down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up ingredients for some of the best summer salads on my list.

SUMMER SALADS: (Clockwise, from the top left)

1. Fresh Sweet Corn, Avocado, English Cucumber, Feta, Red Onion and Cherry Tomato Salad with a Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

2. My award winning Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon, Basil, Toasted Almonds and Shaved Parmesan (thanks, Scranton Times-Tribune!)

3. Farmer’s Market Veggie and Quinoa Salad with Basil and Feta in a Honey-Lemon Dressing

4. Chopped Chicken Salad with Summer Nectarines, Avocado and Feta in a Basil Vinaigrette

5. Tortellini Salad in a Lemon-Artichoke Tapenade with Red Bell Peppers, Parsley and Parm

6. Tuna-Chickpea Salad with Lemon, English Cucumber, and Red Onion (no mayo!)

I don’t know about you all, but my first thought this morning was that I’m only t-minus three weeks until vacation. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Summer Salad: Watermelon, Avocado and Cucumber with Herbs

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, summer doesn’t really begin until I’ve had at least one watermelon (“I carried a watermelon?). They feel like such a summer indulgence, and they’re one of my favorite bases for salads. This combo of watermelon, cucumber & avocado is perfectly sweet, crunchy and creamy, and the lemon-lime dressing pulls it all together. Throw in some chopped fresh basil, mint and chives and dig in. Nobody puts Baby in the corner. 

– 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
– 2.5 C. seedless watermelon, cubed
– 1.5 avocado, cubed
– 5-6 basil leaves
– 4-5 mint leaves
– small handful of chives
– Juice of 1/2 lime
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 5 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tsp. Herbamare, or 1/2 tsp. kosher salt & pepper mix

1. Dice the peeled cucumber (if you can’t find an English cucumber, seed a regular one and use that), and put the pieces in some paper towels to drain it a little bit.

2. Dice the watermelon into about the same size pieces as the English cucumber, wrap that in towels too, so that drains.

3. Make the dressing – juice the lemon and the lime, then add the Herbamare or kosher salt/pepper blend. Mix so the seasonings react with the acids of the lemon/lime mixture.  Add the EVOO, stir (or shake) well to combine.

4. Roughly chop up all the basil, mint and chives. 

5. Add about half the cucumber and half the watermelon to a pretty big bowl. Dice the avocado into similar-size cubes and add half of that to the bowl. Add the remaining cucumber, watermelon and avocado. 

6. Add the dressing evenly over the top of the salad. Then add herbs. 

7. Mix, serve and enjoy. This doesn’t keep well, but chances are it’ll be gone before you have to worry about that.

Pasta with Sungold Tomato Sauce

Who says that tomato sauce needs to be red? I love those cute little orange sungold tomatoes that are everywhere at this point in the summer. This is the simplest sauce – tomatoes, fresh thyme and basil, a homemade strained tomato sauce and a little onion, garlic & parmesan. There’s so little that goes into it, so make sure you use the freshest ingredients you can find. And, if you have leftovers of the sungolds, use them for this salad, which is basically summer in a bowl.

– 2 pints sungold tomatoes 
– 2 tbsp. EVOO 
– 1 tbsp. butter 
– 4 garlic cloves, minced 
– 1 small onion, diced 
– 1 tsp. fresh thyme 
– Approx. 7 basil leaves, chiffonaded 
– 1/3 freshly grated parm 
– 1 lb. angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta  
 – 1.5 C. pasta water 

1. Boil water, salt it pretty heavily (this will be the only salt you use in this entire dish, so just keep that in mind). 

2. In a large saucepan, melt butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, approx. 6-7 minutes. 

3. Add minced garlic, cook until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds. Add the fresh thyme and give everything a good stir.

4. Meanwhile, cook that pasta! 

5. Take one pint of tomatoes, cut them in half, and throw them into a very fine strainer set over a bowl. With a spoon, crush the tomatoes against the strainer so the juice runs into the bowl below. Toss the skins. 

6. Take the other pint of tomatoes, add to the saucepan, and turn the heat down to medium low. 

7. Add the juice to the saucepan with the tomatoes. Stir until it starts to thicken a bit. If you want (I did), crush some of the whole tomatoes that are blistering with the back of the wooden spoon that you’re using to stir everything. 

8. At this point, the pasta should be about 2 minutes away from al dente – this is perfect. Grab about 2 cups of pasta water out of the boiling pot and set aside, then drain the pasta.

9. Add about half the reserved pasta water, stir to combine. Add about half the grated cheese and mix. 

10. Add the pasta to the saucepan and use tongs to get it covered in the sungold tomato sauce. Let this all cook together about 2 minutes more. If sauce looks kind of thin, add the rest of the pasta water. Add the chiffonaded basil and stir.

11. Remove saucepan from heat, and scoop this incredibly simple, delicious sauce into bowls. Observe how your dinner companion is eyeing the bowls “to make sure we both have equal”, give him an extra little scoop. Top with a little more grated parm and dig in. This was seriously delicious.

Grapefruit-Basil Vodka Gimlet

This is what happens when you make things with what you already have in your fridge/freezer. Grapefruit? Check. A huge pot of basil? Check. Vodka? Check, obvs. Also limes, which have thankgodfully stopped selling for $1 apiece. This was seriously delicious, and refreshing, and had the added bonus of allowing me to trick myself into thinking that I was detoxing, because everybody knows that grapefruit is clearly a diet food. 

GRAPEFRUIT-BASIL VODKA GIMLET (makes 1 smallish mason jar full)
– 2 shots vodka
– 1/2 a ruby red grapefruit, juiced
– Couple of basil leaves, chiffonaded
– Juice of 1/2 a lime
– Splash or two of tonic water
– Ice

1. In a mason jar, add ice, then vodka.

2. Squeeze half a ruby red grapefruit into the glass, then use a citrus reamer to get the rest of the juice. 

3. Juice the lime and add the tonic water.

4. Chiffonade some fresh basil, then stir. Taste and adjust as needed. Oh – hello, summer. 

Caramelized Summer Peaches with Basil

Collyn made this when we were at Brigantine this summer, and it was so tasty it could have been a dessert, but light enough that we ate it as part of our breakfast. The sauce is basically a deconstructed caramel, and it complements the summer peaches really well – topped with some fresh basil (have the basil plants you’ve been finding at your Farmers’ Market this month been as crazily, awesomely overgrown as mine have?), this takes on a little more freshness too.

– 3 peaches, sliced into 1/4 inch wedges (leave skin on or off, it’s up to you)
– small handful of chiffonaded basil
– 3 tbsp. butter
– 3 tbsp. brown sugar
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 1 tbsp. water

1. In a larger pan over medium heat, melt the butter, stirring until it starts to get a little bit brown.

2. Add the brown sugar, and stir. Stir. Stir. Make sure all those sugar granuals melt and really incorporate into the butter.

3. Add vanilla, stir to combine. At this point it might start to look a little solidified. If it does, turn down the heat and add the 1 tbsp water. Tada – thin caramel sauce. Don’t taste this – it will be super, super hot and probably really burn your tongue. Not, of course, like I would know.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the peaches, mix to warm the peach slices. Chiffonade some basil and toss that in there too, mix it all up. 

This doesn’t keep really well, so make sure to eat it within an hour or so (which is prob. not going to be too hard to do).

Thanks for the recipe, Colly!

Cape Weekend

I haven’t been up to Cape Cod in a solid ten years, but it was – incredibly – more beautiful than I remembered – those adorable cottages and hydrangea everywhere, some of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen, the most amazing sunsets of maybe anywhere. We had great food and conversation in Dennis…it was just a perfect little getaway.

There are really few people I’d wake up at 3am on a Saturday to drive 5 hours with (or, 7 hours behind, if RMBA is at the wheel of the car in front of you) for a quick weekend on the Cape with the “girls” of her family, and come away from it thinking it had been the best weekend of my summer. 

Re’s family has been coming up here since she was little, and now the group is “girls only” – with the exception of 2 year old Henry. Life happens, and so the QT I get to spend with her now is less than what it used to be when we both lived in Philly, pre-moves (for me) and pre-law school (for her). Saturday night after a gorgeous day at the beach, we went driving around the Cape so she could show me the things that she loved when she was younger, and then we literally just sat and split a six pack and listened to music and just caught up for a while. She’s been an incredible sounding board and support system to me for over 20 years now (!!), is one of the people I admire most in the world, and I’m just so lucky to have her as a friend, and to know and love her family, too. 

This summer has been full of really beautiful moments where I sometimes least expected to find them. This weekend was one of the prettiest. 

This basically sums up the ride up there – pop tarts, coffee, gas station-brand water. Sick. Oh and also like a million episodes of This American Life. Standard road trip.

Almost there!

Insanely clear water.
G & Clairey, looking at the hermit crabs.

Wine on the beach at sunset in a Dino cup? What, like you haven’t?
G, totally miz despite being about the eat the best blueberry muffin of anyone’s life from the Merc.
Go here. Get the muffins. Enjoy.

sun-squint selfie
Definitely coming back here next year! This beach felt like the end of the world. It was unbelievable. 

Double Rainbow! Good sign and a perfect ending to the weekend.
Oh, all right. Just one lobster roll.
Thanks for hosting me, ladies!

Tortellini Salad with Red Bell Peppers, Parsley, Parm and a Lemon-Artichoke Tapenade (and also, “Cousin weekend”)

Cousin weekend. <3

Every summer my cousin Erin and her husband Brian host our little group of cousins on my dad’s side at their weekend place in Brigantine, NJ.  We’re all super into cooking, so the weekend is usually a little bit schmorgasboard, a lot bit Erin’s amazing margaritas, beach, boating, catch-up, recipe swap. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year and this year was no exception.  Even when the power went out (in AC. In the casino. Slot machines were the only thing that didn’t miss a beat).

My contribution was a Tortellini Salad – it takes about 10 minutes to make, keeps really well, and is something you can bring to the beach with you since it won’t go bad if it gets a little warm. I used to eat a version of this all the time when I lived in Bozeman, Montana – their Co-Op Market made this and I loved it – until I realized I could throw it together myself. This even passes the K. Haggs test, which for all of us who know her particular eating preferences, is saying a lot.

TORTELLINI SALAD WITH RED BELL PEPPERS, PARSLEY, PARM, and a LEMON-ARTICHOKE TAPENADE (makes an enormous bowl that will be a good side dish for 7 cousins over 2 days)
– 2 packages tortellini, cooked per directions
– 1 red bell pepper, diced
– 3 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped (approx.)
– thickly grated fresh parm

Lemon-Artichoke Tapenade
– 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained, and chopped pretty thoroughly
– juice of 1 lemon
– solid 3 glugs of EVOO (or more, if the tapenade is too dry)
– freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste

1. Cook tortellini per directions. Drain and let cool completely. You can toss the tortellini with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

2. Chop up the artichoke hearts, add to a small bowl. Some people pulse this all together in a food processor, but I like the little chunks of the artichoke hearts that you get by chopping them.

3. To that bowl, add the juice of 1 lemon, then the kosher salt & pepper.

4. Add the EVOO & stir well to combine. Taste & adjust. You want the EVOO to kind of bind everything, not have a pool of it in the bottom of the bowl.

5. Chop up the bell pepper & parsley.

6. Add artichoke tapenade to cooled tortellini, mix well to combine. 

7. Add the red bell pepper, parsley and parm. Stir well to combine. Add kosher salt & pepper if necessary.

Weekend highlights:

Boating on the “Cheeky Monkey”. Brian’s playlist for these rides, every time, just knocks it out of the park. Can you link to Spotify playlists from here? If anybody knows how, let me know and I’ll share the one I copied from him.

Margaritas everywhere (the one in the mason jar came with a “two drink max per person” rule):

Erin’s gorgeous garden – this is seriously one of my favorite spaces in America. She does such a beautiful job with it – there are hummingbirds everywhere, you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of the Secret Garden.

Beach – first time this summer!

Revel Casino  – unreal space


Drive in and out – sunshower, Philly without traffic, dumplings from one of my favorite Philly Chinese restaurants, that perfect moment on the way home with the sun shining and a great song on the radio, when you feel like everything is right with the world.

Thanks Erin & Brian – I love you guys & I’ll see you soon!  xoxo

Chopped Chicken Salad with Summer Nectarines, Avocado & Feta in a Basil Vinaigrette

This is, clearly, the summer of salads.  It’s been so hot out lately that I can’t even think about turning on an oven, so here we are.  You can get pretty creative with salads – for this one, I had some leftover grilled chicken, and the rest was in my refrigerator. It was delicious. You can sub peaches for nectarines, but make sure they’re pretty ripe, because crunch of the nectarines was perfect when paired with the creamy avocado, the grilled chicken, the saltiness of the feta and the sweet punch of the basil vinaigrette. It doesn’t keep well (at all) so make as much as you’re going to serve at a time.

– 2 nectarines (or peaches), chopped
– 1 large grilled chicken breast, chopped
– 1 avocado, chopped
– 1/4 cup crumbled feta
– couple basil leaves, chiffonaded

Basil Vinaigrette (makes more than enough, so just use however much you need)
– 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
– 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
– 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
– 2 tsp. honey
– 6 tbsp. EVOO
– little kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Ready for this? It’s super complicated.

1. Chop up the nectarines/peaches/avocado into pieces roughly the same size (approx. 1/4 inch), add to a bowl.

2. Add the feta, mix gently to combine and not bruise the avocado.

3. Combine the vinegars and the salt/pepper, then the honey, then the EVOO & the chopped basil.  Put a lid on it and shake it up (that doubles as life advice).

4. Top the salad with the dressing just before serving, then gently combine.  Top individual servings with the extra chiffonaded basil.

— It was hard for me to concentrate while writing this because I SWEAR TO YOU, STINK BUG BUZZING SOMEPLACE IN MY SUNROOM, I WILL FIND YOU AND YOU WILL BE MINE.